For two days, western and Ukrainian media have been discussing Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s possible foreign visit. In particular, it is said that the Ukrainian president could take part in the summit of European Union leaders and governments on February 9 and 10. What is known about this visit that immediately follows the Ukraine—EU summit, and why has it already caused controversies in the EU?
On Monday, February 6, the Financial Times wrote, citing its own sources, that Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Brussels was being prepared. According to them, the president is to speak at a special session of the European parliament, but the schedule is kept secret out of security concerns.
Meanwhile, the same sources warned that the visit could be derailed because of security risks for Ukraine’s leader. Zelenskyy also said that his departure could trigger a response from the Russians.
In December 2022, the president visited Washington, where he addressed the U.S. Congress and was welcomed by Americans. However, extensive security measures were taken during this visit, including by U.S. agencies: Zelenskyy was carried by an American military aircraft, and the route was confidential up to the very last moment. This time, the visit and its details also lack publicity — thus, Zelenskyy’s spokesman has already refused to comment.
However, the visit was confirmed by sources to other western media; thus, Belga wrote about it, citing contacts in the European Parliament and emphasizing that the exact program would not be disclosed for security reasons.
Two AP’s sources in the EU legislature also confirmed that the preparations for the visit by the Ukrainian president were underway and noted that Brussels was ready to host Zelenskyy if security conditions permitted him to leave Ukraine on Thursday, February 9, to attend the summit.
"When he would come, we would be ready," said one of the sources, adding that any decision could only come at the last moment considering the situation in Ukraine.
In Brussels, officials say that Zelenskyy has long had an open invitation to come if he chose to.
The AP emphasizes that Russian forces are keeping Ukrainian troops tied down with attacks in the east amid concerns of a new Russian offensive, so the Ukrainian president could choose not to leave the country.
Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, recriminations have broken out among EU officials over the leaked information about a possible visit by Zelenskyy to Brussels since the leak raised concerns over the security of the Ukrainian leader.
The newspaper points out that the possible visit by the Ukrainian president was first reported by Italian media, and the European People’s Party even tweeted this news. The tweet was then swiftly deleted, but Politico managed to capture it in a screenshot.
"We look forward to welcoming you in Brussels, Mr. President," the tweet read.
The European Parliament was said to be responsible for leaking the information — in particular, Charles Michel puts the blame on it. His words are an embarrassment for the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, not only because her officials have leaked the information but also because her party, the EPP, publicized the invitation to Zelenskyy.
The Guardian’s authors argue that the row reveals how rival EU institutions are jostling to show solidarity with Ukraine and demonstrate their support for Ukraine’s leader. However, such leaks could compromise his security.